Sep 1, 2020
Today's conversation is with India Soloman, the Executive Director of The Bulb Mobile Market. It's a non-profit mobile farmer's market that provides and facilitates access to fresh local produce to food insecure neighbors. The Bulb is grant and donation based by receiving produce leftover from Farmer's markets and Trader Joe's. India calls them the "unsellables but edibles" as they may have a blemish and a grocery store can't sell them but The Bulb will put them through their own inspection process before deciding if they will use or compost it. India started out as a patron at The Bulb when they were set up at the Rosa Parks Farmer's Market when she saw a sign that said "Take what you need, pay what you can." She was immediately drawn to Alisha Pruett, the founder, signed up as a volunteer immediately, and in March of 2020, came on as the full-time Executive Director.
"It's for the whole family, it's for the children, it's for the working folx, it's for our seniors. Everybody needs food to survive, I mean it's not something we have the option to do, food is right, food is required for us to live."
The Bulb has different pricing models; their grant funded food is pay what you can, they offer suggested pricing for purchased food, ask for donations on the donated food, and also accept EBT and are part of the "double up bucks" program. The Bulb also offers nutrition education in their newsletter including videos, recipes, and teaching how to grow food. They are currently accepting applications for an internship program for 3 recipients in the communities they serve in conjunction with Lomax Farms.
When COVID hit, the Bulb had to quickly move the office space as they were sharing space in a senior center. Catawba Brewery has been their temporary location where they moved to a pre-bagged delivery service and then a pre-bagged pickup service. They have hired 4 people during this time due to the need and are in the process of signing a lease for their own space.
Food has been a constant in India's life starting from growing up on land that had been farmed by her family. After she received her degree in Public History, she began researching land and found the deed for the land that her great, great-grandfather purchased after emancipation. Her family grew tobacco, soybeans, and corn. They lost a good bit of their land in the 1980s when black farmers were denied bank loans. More recently, India has shown more interest in farming the land once again and especially after she found out what Soul Fire Farm in New York has been doing.
"That's why these conversations of racial injustice and food injustice and all of that is important because it's not just one thing. It's a whole system that has removed people from that concept of land and ownership and creating and cultivating on their own."
An influential book and movie for India is "Their Eyes Were Watching God" by Zora Neale Hurston. She always reminds herself the message of loving yourself in order to persevere. In the Charlotte community, India is inspired by Kelley Palmer. She first met her as a loctician many years ago and loved how she brought people together in the community. Since then Kelley has continued to bring together people in the community through her organization Sanctuary in the City.
"I just love being amongst people. I say people are my passion. If you don't love yourself and you don't take care of yourself, you can't fill others will an empty cup."
There are ways you can support The Bulb. You can volunteer, they accept donations(supplies and food from farms), they have an Amazon Wish List, are accessible on Share Charlotte, are connected to Street Fare Farms which you can support as well, or you can join them at a market!